Lesbian wins case over discrimination

UNISON members in the North East have secured a double win at a tribunal.

Care assistant Ms S won her claim of unfair dismissal and discrimination because of sexual orientation.

Her manager, who supported her throughout, won a claim of unfair dismissal and victimisation.

Ms S, an out lesbian, started work for Gainford Care Homes in September 2010.

In May 2011, she helped managing director Imran Kaliq move some furniture.

One of the business owners then phoned her manager, saying that Mr Kaliq wanted to know why she had employed “big butch dykes” and that Ms S “needs to go”.

Similar requests to dismiss Ms S followed, because, as she was perceived to be butch, she might intimidate residents.

Her manager refused all these requests, and made it clear that to dismiss her because of sexual orientation was unlawful.

Ms S was eventually dismissed on grounds of alleged threatening behaviour at a social event, “attitude towards management” and episodes of sickness.

The tribunal found these reasons were false, that her dismissal was unfair and was direct discrimination because she is a lesbian.

She was awarded compensation for present and future loss of earnings and £8,000 for injury to feelings.

Her manager then faced “appalling treatment at the hands of the Kaliqs”, the tribunal found.

Despite 12 years employment at Gainford Care Homes as a senior manager, her position became impossible and she resigned.

The tribunal judgment referred to her as “a lady of extraordinary courage”. It decided that she had been victimised and constructively dismissed.

She was awarded over £7,000 for unfair dismissal and £12,000 for injury to feelings.

UNISON national officer Carola Towle said: “Often members who have experienced this sort of treatment cannot face going through tribunal proceedings.

“It is not easy. So we particularly welcome this victory for our members and applaud their courage.”

If you think you have been discriminated against at work because of your sexual orientation, talk to your local rep.

If you are not out in your branch or are unable to talk to your rep about what is happening, contact the regional officer for the LGBT group in your region.

You can get their details from UNISONDirect on 0800 0 857 857.